What does Matthew 28:5-6 mean?

The angel at Jesus’ tomb is speaking to some women who have come to add burial spices to Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1–5). They had wondered who would roll away the large stone for them. They were present when Jesus was initially buried (Matthew 27:61), so they know there is an extremely large stone closing the entrance. They may not have known that the tomb had been sealed and guarded (Matthew 27:62–66). Arriving, they find the stone already rolled away and a terrifying-looking angel present.

The angel has told the women not to be afraid, the kind of comment angels often need to make when first speaking to human beings (Luke 1:11–13; 2:9–10; Acts 10:3–4). He knows they are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. Then he adds these immortal words: “He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” These words hold the hope of Christianity for the world. Jesus had defeated death. He had died for the sins of humanity, and He had been resurrected to eternal, immortal life.

The phrase “as he said” is crucial. That Jesus knew He would be resurrected and told His followers ahead of time was another confirmation that He was truly the Son of God. It was more evidence that He fully participated in the events that led to His terrible death and glorious resurrection.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus declared on three occasions that He would be killed and then be raised “on the third day” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:18–19). Commentors often debate the minute details of how long Jesus was in the grave. Such debates miss the point of an obvious prophecy, and even more obvious miracle. Even on the shortest possible time scale, Christ would have died on Friday, the first day. His body would have lain in the tomb on Saturday, the second day. He was resurrected on Sunday, the third day.

The angel offers evidence to the women of Jesus’ resurrection. He points to the place where Jesus’ body had previously been. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, at least, witnessed Joseph of Arimathea placing Jesus’ body there (Matthew 27:61). Now it is clearly gone. The empty tomb is the hope of eternal life for all who believe in Jesus.

Chapter Context
Peter continues teaching about Christian submission to human authorities, now addressing Christian wives. Believing wives must be subject to their own husbands, even if the husband is not a follower of Christ. By doing so, they might win them to Christ through the example of their own changed lives and hearts. Christian husbands must honor their wives. All believers must live in unity together and refuse to seek revenge. In part, God means to use our hopeful response to suffering to provoke the world to see His power in us. Christ, too, suffered and then died, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.

Context Summary
1 Peter 3:8–22 addresses all believers, commanding Christians to be unified and to refuse to seek revenge when wronged. Peter quotes from both David and Isaiah to show that God’s people have always been called to reject evil and to do good. This is true even when we are suffering. In fact, it may be God’s will for His people to suffer, in part, to demonstrate His power. Our good example can convict others into repentance. Christ, too, suffered, died, was resurrected, and ascended to power and authority in heaven.

2 thoughts on “What does Matthew 28:5-6 mean?

  1. Tom

    I was a bit confused. The article is titled “What Does Matthew 28: 5-6 Mean” but ends with two paragraphs on 1 Peter 3.


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